ontario science centre

There's a chance the Science Centre might get saved from Doug Ford after all

Though it appears that saving Ontario Place from turning into a private megaspa may be hopeless, there is one other huge aspect of Doug Ford and co.'s plan for the waterfront greenspace that may be changing, thanks to public pushback.

Toronto City Council is today assessing a new motion to keep the iconic Ontario Science Centre where it is, rather than relocating it some 15 km southwest to Ontario Place, as the premier quite unexpectedly revealed in April.

Ford called the centre "a treasure" at the time, but said it is tired and in desperate need of revitalization — which, apparently, his team feels is best achieved with a full demolition and move, rather than some admittedly much-needed renovations.

"For the last number of years [we've] been looking at whether or not the option of relocation to preserve the Science Centre should take place... the structure itself has deteriorated, as has Ontario Place," Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma said in a press conference confirming the news.

"Our government is making the investments necessary to preserve these two treasures to bring them back to life, to make them a place that everyone can go and enjoy with their families."

Given that the Brutalist landmark will be lost in the move — which will be not just costly for taxpayers, but a hit to the Flemingdon Park  neighbourhood — Councillors Josh Matlow and Jon Burnside tabled a proposal to protect the current facility.

The motion asks the city to look into what obligations the province has to continue operating some sort of public-facing attraction on the property (if not the Science Centre itself), and also examine the potential of the city taking over the centre and running it much like it does the Toronto Zoo.

"The announcement [to move the Ontario Science Centre to a much smaller location at Ontario Place] was done without consultation with residents of Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park," Matlow writes.

"The cultural attraction is an important economic driver for the local community... it would be a real blow to this community to lose the Science Centre just as the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown’s 'Science Centre' station is about to make the attraction more accessible to the entire city."

He also argued that the city has a duty to "explore all possible means to keep the Science Centre at its current location."

Matlow has previously called Ford's reimagined Science Centre at Ontario Place "a mini Science Centre that you can visit while you're waiting for your massage at the spa."

This last-ditch attempt to change the future of some of the city's key sites is likely to garner some support, even if only because of the overwhelming rage the general public has about the forthcoming privatization of such valuable public space.

Ford's idea to bring the Science Centre as the third and final cornerstone of the Ontario Place lands comes months after Quebec outdoor recreation company Écorécréo Group backed out of the project, taking its family-friendly all-season adventure park with it.

Lead photo by

Ian Muttoo

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